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Study analyzes 2006 California heat wave's substantial effect on morbidity
Date:2/25/2009

February 25, 2009-- An extreme heat wave affected much of the state of California during mid- to late July 2006, breaking daily maximum temperature records in many regions of the State. A study conducted by researchers from the Mailman School of Public Health, the Natural Resources Defense Council, and the California Department of Public Health reports that the 2006 California heat wave had a substantial impact on morbidity throughout California, resulting in increased hospitalizations and emergency department (ED) visits. By better understanding these impacts and population vulnerabilities, local communities can improve heat wave preparedness to cope with global warming in the future. Findings from the study, "The 2006 California Heat Wave: Impacts on Hospitalizations and Emergency Department Visits" are published in the January 2009 issue of Environmental Health Perspectives.

"In the 2006 California heat wave, we found dramatic increases across a wide range of morbidities statewide, with excess ED visits far outpacing excess hospitalizations," said Kim Knowlton, DrPH, assistant clinical professor of Environmental Health Sciences at the Mailman School of Public Health, and senior scientist in the Health & Environment Program at the Natural Resources Defense Council. It was reported that 501,951 ED visits were made during the 15 July to 1 August 2006 heat wave period compared with 485,785 visits over the same number of days in the non-heat-wave period. "The dramatic effect of the 2006 heat wave on ED visits suggests that advance preparedness efforts should be undertaken to allow rapid adaptability when extreme weather events occur," suggests Dr. Knowlton.

While previous studies have reported different patterns of mortality, one of the goals of the Mailman School study was to learn if age or race/ethnicity played a role in morbidity and led people to seek medical attention, thus providing opportunities for early intervention and public educati
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Contact: stephanie berger
sb2247@columbia.edu
212-305-4372
Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health
Source:Eurekalert

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